Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Obsession with footwear

Seriously; you could be excused for thinking I'm a woman sometimes.  I love footwear.  A good pair of comfortable hikers is one of my favorite things in the world, and I need to figure out, honestly, how to quit my cubicle day job and find some work where wearing them all of the time is just what I do.

And then, of course, I'd need at least half a dozen pair at a time so I can mix them up and have plenty to go on.  Add to that a pair of really good and tall (8"-10") hunting boots, a pair of cowboy boots, and a 6"-8" pair of black duty boots, and I'd be good to go.  Heck, I'd even wear those duty boots to church if I thought I could get away with it.  I probably can get away with cowboy boots to church, especially if I switch to a slightly more "casual" chino style pants instead of dress slacks.

Anyway, I'm quite happy with the boots that I have now, and I'm honestly not likely to wear them out any time soon, because I don't really wear them as much as I'd like—plus they seem like real keepers that'll be good for a long time anyway.  But I'd like to have some spares, and every so often, I like to go through various catalogs and see which ones I'd like to get.

And again; I'm talking actual boots.  I wouldn't mind some hiking shoes, or trail runners, or whatever you want to call them too, and honestly I'd probably wear them just as much.  But for mid-height (or more) hikers, my top choices would be the following:

Cabela's Men's DPX Hikers: These are the same as the boots that I have, actually.  They rebranded them slightly (got rid of the XPG sub-brand) and replaced the GORE-TEX lining with their own Cabela's 4MOST Dry Plus lining, but otherwise, the boots are practically identical.  Since I like the ones I have, replacing them with another pair of the same (the colors vary somewhat) seems smart.

Cabela's Men's XPG 2.0 Hikers: On the other hand, these are the XPG 2.0s.  A little heavier than mine, but probably not noticeably so.  This seems to be because the toe-box has been widened to allow for a more comfortable fit after the feet swell a bit on long hikes.

Cabelas's Instinct Men's Pursuitz Hunting Boots: Are actually exactly the same as the XPG 1.0 Hikers, except with a camo pattern.  Actually, the rand around the edge may be bigger.  I need to actually look at these in person again, while wearing my older boots.  Anyway, all of these options are very similar (if not practically identical in the case of two of them) to my existing boots, except for color and the brand of the water-proof liner.  These remain near the top of my list, if nothing else, because they're already the same as a pair of shoes that I own and like.  Don't rock the boat if it's working, and all that.

New Balance 703 Country Walking Shoes: Not sure if these are on the way out or not.  There used to be two colors, now there's one, and the larger sizes (including what I'd need) don't seem to be in stock.  This is often a sign of a shoe that they're just selling their existing inventory of, and then not reordering, either because it's out of production, or they're just not going to carry it anymore.  If so; that's a shame.  I came very close to picking these instead of the ones I did get.  And I think I'd have liked them, too.

Danner 453: I really like the Danner brand; another American icon.  The 453s are some that I've tried on in the past and really liked.  They are a bit more boot-like rather than hybrid shoe-like, like the Cabela's stuff and New Balance shoes are (by which I guess I mean that they have mostly leather uppers and a more boot-like appearance, whereas the others look like beefy, off-road hi-tops.)  Although not listed at Cabela's, this all leather option is the best looking of the bunch, I think.

Danner Radical 452: This is a slightly lighter and slightly less expensive pair of boots.  I honestly don't know how much I'd hike in these kind of old-school hiking boots, no matter how well made they are, when hi-top trail runners are so in vogue for rather obvious reasons.  But they're nice.

Danner TrailTrek: I like these too.  Beautiful looking boot.  The Danners are a bit on the pricey side, and they're a bit on the heavy side, and they're a bit on the traditional boot side.  Sigh.  I wish the Extroverts were still in production.

Under Armour Speedfit Hikers: I find these an interesting boot, too—with an almost combat boot appearance, but with very lightweight, hi-top tennis shoe like construction, they don't have a "waterproof" lining, but they do have a water resistant finish.  And they sell for a good price, and have very high review scores.

Meindl Perfekt 7" Hikers: Although they're too heavy and too traditional (and too expensive) to ever be something that I'd favor for much actual hiking, you can't deny the fashion statement that traditional all-leather boots make, and the Meindl ones are supposed to be about the best of the best.  The Perfekt Hikers are probably the best hoice, although see below...

Meindl Perfekt Light Hikers: The Perfekt Light Hikers (or even the vented ones with mesh panels) are a good alternative.  Missing a toe guard or any kind of rand to protect the leather, I think I prefer the former.  And "light" here is relative; they're still way over 3 lbs. a pair (my boots are listed as under 2 lbs, although the default listing is for size 9s, I think.  I wear size 12, so I probably go over the 2 lbs. mark.)

Meindl Air Revolution Backpacking Boots: This is a beautiful pair of tall, traditional, leather hiking boots.  I'm not much of a fashion maven, but I really love the concept of "wilderness chic" and you're only partly there without a traditional pair of hiking boots.  Hiking boots and work boots are also nearly indistinguishable in many ways; both are designed to give your feet support and comfort when you're on them all day, but the latter have (sometimes) safety toes and their soles are designed for no slip on wet or oily surface, not for off-road trekking.  And who doesn't like the concept of dressing like you're ready to work?  Lazy scum, that's who.

Meindl Uninsulated Ultralight Hunting Boots:  This is a very, very classic look; old fashioned combat boots in brown leather and made to be as lightweight as boots this tall can possibly be.  Love 'em.  The Danner Pronghorns are very similar, but I suspect that these are better made.

Cabela's Silent Stalker Sneaker Hunting Boots: Are even lighter, and therefore probably more comfortable to hike in.  I like how in the description they're called both "rugged and sensitive."  What is this, their Match.com profile?

Cabela's Outfitter Series Hunting Boots: Another very classic look.  I don't know how many such "classic" brown leather combat boots I would ever need, but I also don't know which one I'd most want to actually have.  I like the price on this one compared to the Meindl boots, which aren't even full leather like these are.

Under Armour All-Leather Wall-Hanger Hunting Boots: I'm actually intrigued by Under Armour.  It seems a bit like a "boutique" brand for weekend warriors who are more worried about fashion than anything else (I used to laugh at the gym seeing people in Under Armor and Nike Pro Combat workout clothes while I wore C9, Old Navy or some other brand that was identical, but which cost half as much) but their boots (at least the ones sold at Cabela's) are a good price and have good reviews.  I do kind of dislike the prominent oddly colored logo, though.

Meindl Western Slope Hunting Boots: These boots look like the kind that are made for bushwhacking in very rough terrain.  As do the Meindl Western Guide Hunting Boots.  They, in fact, look very similar, but the Western Slopes are considerably less expensive.

Cabela's Instinct Backcountry Hunting Boots: Come in 6" and 8" height.  I quite like the look of them, but I have to admit that reviews are a bit mixed.  Lots of people like them, but there are a rather higher than I'd like number of reviews complaining about the boots falling apart.  Regardless, I'm not likely to buy them, and even less likely to use them on long hikes even if I did.

Cabela's Roughneck Ledger Wellington Work Boots: Man, I'd wear the crap outta these things.  Not for hiking, though.

Cabela's Roughneck Ledger  Plain Toe Work Boots: In 6" and 8" height; these are more traditional (i.e., less "western.")

Cabela's Roughneck S.A.W. 7" Plain Toe Work Boots: Famous as some of the most comfortable boots on the market is a good sales pitch, but honestly, I doubt that those soles are what I'm looking for.

Cabela's Roughneck Plain Toe Work Hikers: In 5" and 7" heights.  These are just rugged hiking boots, really—meant to be used in rough, outdoor projects like construction sites, landscaping, etc.

Cabela's Black Duty Boots: And you've got to throw in some tactical law enforcement boots of the kind that the military used to use not that long ago.  In 6" and 8" (gotta go 8") heights, this purely would be for style; I'd wear it with my black leather biker jacket.

What do I make of all of this; this big, massive list of boots that I like?  Obviously, I'm not getting all of them or even most of them.  I may not end up getting any of them any time soon.  But what would I honestly want to get?

Hmm... I would like two switch-out alternatives to my existing hiking boots.  Either the Cabela's DPX Hikers or the Instinct Pursuitz Hunting boots are at the top of the list, because they are design equivalents to what I have now, which I like.  But probably not both; maybe the Under Armour Speedfit Hikers is the second alternative so I can have something that at least looks a little different and feel a little lighter.  I'd also like a really good "classic" brown leather hiking boot to wear... not necessarily while hiking, but just all over the place.  The Meindl Perfekt hikers fit that bill perfektly.

The Wellington work boots can sub for Western boots; heck; I'd even wear those to church, and the Duty Boots are, again, a stylish necessity.  I might like some good, rugged actual work boots too; maybe the 8" Roughneck work hikers, which I could wear while doing work outside; a not terribly uncommon feature of my life sometimes.

My boys tell me that I should take up hunting as a hobby; it not only seems right up my alley, but they'd also get to eat venison and other game meat a lot more often if I did.  Assuming that I do, one of these days, those Roughneck work hikers can probably double as hunting boots too; boots that I take outside and beat up, essentially.  If I get mud and blood on them from working and hunting, well, that's OK; in fact, that's the whole reason that I have them.

There.  I've reduced that bit list down to six pairs of boots that I'd most like to get.  How about that?

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